This article gives an overview of liberalism and radicalism in Spain. It is limited to liberal and radicalparties with substantial support, mainly proved by having been represented in parliament. The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme. For inclusion in this scheme it is not necessary that parties label themselves as a liberal or radical party.
In the nineteenth century, liberalism was a major political force in Spain, but as in many other continental European countries care must be taken over the use of labels as this term was used with different meanings (this is discussed in the article on Radicalism (historical).
As in much of Europe, the nineteenth-century history of Spain would largely revolve around the conflicts between the three major liberal currents - radicalism; progressive classical liberalism, or conservative classical liberalism. While all three rejected the Catholic, traditionalist, and absolutist Old Regime, each had a different perspective on the urgency and degree to which state and society needed reforming to modernize the values and institutions.
The term 'liberal' itself was usually used to signify classical liberalism. It had a progressive-liberal wing as represented by the Fusionist Liberal Party (more inclined towards gradual reform, and making compromises with the radical current); and a conservative-liberal wing as represented by the Liberal Conservative Party (more inclined towards traditionalism, and compromising with the absolute-monarchist faction). Its various currents were broadly united by a set of shared beliefs:
In constitutional affairs, flexible towards the type of constitutional regime (monarchy or republic).
For the left-liberal and social-liberal currents, 'liberal' was rarely used as the single defining label. Instead such currents rather used labels such as radical, democratic or republican (see republicanism). The shared beliefs that generally unified its various factions included:
1808-12: Until 1839 the Spanish liberals were not organized in a well-established party, but formed their own factions. During the War of Independence and the Constitution of Cádiz the term Liberals (Liberales, 1812-1820) was used to describe the diverse range of currents influenced by the Enlightenment and French Revolution and united in rejecting the absolutism of the Bourbon monarchy.
1820-39: Between 1820 and 1839 the Liberals split into two factions. The 'Radicals' (Exaltados), known as Veinteanistas (Supporters of 1820) were inspired by French Jacobinism and Radicalism and wished to draft a new more progressive constitution based on universal suffrage; the 'Moderates' (Moderados), closer to classical liberalism, were known as Doceanistas (Supporters of 1812) as they wished simply to restore the more limited constitution of 1812.